Reviewed by Ian Forbes, Sobering Conclusion
When last we saw Anton Yelchin and Jennifer Lawrence, they were falling in love while Mel Gibson stuck his hand up a Beaver puppet. In director/co-writer Drake Doremus’ new film, Like Crazy, their romance is an entirely different animal and only a subplot for the main pairing of Yelchin and Felicity Jones (alas, there are no puppets).
The film begins with an irresistibly endearing meet-cute between Jacob (Yelchin) and Anna (Jones). He’s a furniture design student and she’s an English girl studying abroad in Los Angeles. What follows is a constantly moving portrait of their relationship, with gaps in time never overtly explained, we just know a shift has occurred based on locale or whomever each of them may be shagging (yeah, baby, yeah … wait, there’s no nudity … umm … well … whatever).
The time shifting is a completely effective tool to encompass this young romance, giving the audience a glimpse of the saccharine sweet while also highlighting some major obstacles in their path (kudos to editor Jonathan Alberts for making it all flow so well). Obviously, as a Brit utilizing a student Visa, there comes a point when Anna must return to the UK. The resulting drama from extending her stay over their first summer together and the long-distance relationship that occurs as Jacob starts a furniture business in L.A. while Anna works at a magazine in England are huge issues, but to the film’s credit, not the driving wedge that might come between the two.
At its core, this is a tale of exploring love; the joys it can bring, the sadness created by separation, and testing the limits of the how far a relationship can go when running almost solely on that love. Yelchin and Jones do a fine job of building a realistic relationship between people in their low-20s. It’s easy to see why they come together and it makes the difficulties later on that much more poignant. And while none of the performances in the cast are likely to stand out over time, they work perfectly within the context of the film and create a very relatable setting for audiences.
Dustin O’Halloran’s score perfectly complements the tone of the film, though that’s not surprising considering Doremus’ last film, Douchebag. While completely different movies with different composers, each utilized the score and soundtrack effectively to convey emotion without being overly pushy and Doremus seems to have a knack for creating a sensibility in his work that allows comedy and drama to co-exist without feeling contrived or forced.
Sadly, what is a bit contrived and forced in the film are the decisions made by Jacob and Anna as the challenges to their relationship grow bigger and bigger. Sure, it’d be nice if love conquered all, but it’s just too much of a stretch to think these two would try so hard to stick it out given what happens along the way. And with its short 90-minute runtime, some of the stumbling blocks on the road to potential happiness feel a bit like padding to get the project to feature length.
However, Doremus is smart, and ends the film with some ambiguity (much to the chagrin of the screening audience so if you need a concrete resolution to your movies, this may present a problem for you). There are a number of scenes that resonated the sincerity and exhilaration of young love perfectly, but there are also quite a few that don’t quite feel like things would happen that way in real life. It’s a bit of a mixed bag but the overall result of Like Crazy is positive, if you’re an independent movie fan.
Anyone nursing a broken heart will either find themselves needing a few drinks afterwards or needing to be restrained from calling their ex, so if you fall into that category, make sure to have both a designated driver and designated dialer. You can thank me later.
Like Crazy is rated G-13 for sexual content and brief strong language.